W. J. Lincoln

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W. J. Lincoln

William Joseph Lincoln (1870–August 1917) was an Australian playwright, theatre manager, film director and screenwriter in the silent era.[1] He produced, directed and/or wrote 23 films between 1911 and 1916.

Film historians Graham Shirley and Brian Adams wrote of him that "it is probably that all his movies "were more like stage tableux than films. However, with the right ingredients at their disposal the best of Lincoln's early productions were well-received".[2]


W. J. Lincoln was born in Melbourne and was bought up in St Kilda. He worked as a playwright and a stage actor in Melbourne, his early plays including The Power of Wealth and The Bush King for the Alfred Dampier Company.[3]

Lincoln first became involved with the film industry when managing the Australasian tour of the Gaiety Company for J.C. Williamson Ltd. While doing this he received notice to meet up with Clement Mason who had film of the Russo-Japanese War. Lincoln toured with this and some other films throughout Western Australia. It was a massive success with the public.[4][5][6]

According to one newspaper report he produced and directed The Story of the Kelly Gang[7] but this seems doubtful. Lincoln himself attributed the direction to Sam Crews.[4]

In 1908 he was manager of the Paradise of Living Pictures movie theatre in St Kilda, Melbourne, Victoria, and had begun to write and direct films for show in the theatre.[8][9]

Film Career[edit]

Lincoln made his film debut as director and writer with It Is Never Too Late to Mend (1911) for the Tait brothers. They appointed him director of their new company, Amalgamated Pictures, for whom he made six films over the next year.[10]

In later writing these films Lincoln said "I am... in a somewhat awkward position in appraising their merits, but in justice to those who assisted in these productions, I may say that their work under discouraging conditions, Is entitled to the highest commendation."[4]

The Taits withdrew from film production and in 1913 Lincoln bought out Amalgamated Picture's interest in the "Paradise" theatre.[11][12]

Lincoln-Cass Film Company[edit]

He then partnered with Godfrey Cass to make films as the Lincoln-Cass Film Company.[13] The company survived for only one year, but in that time it made eight films.

J.C. Williamson Ltd[edit]

Lincoln later worked for J.C. Williamson Ltd when they moved into film production.[14]

He was originally supposed to write and direct but by this stage his alcoholism had gotten out of control, causing him to be removed as director of Get-Rich-Quick Wallingford (1916).

In October 1915 it was announced that Lincoln "has been in poor health lately, and has had to take things quietly. He is contemplating spending a few weeks at one of the mountain resorts, and while there will looks over, manuscripts of some big film, factories which are under consideration for future production."[15]

Later Years[edit]

Lincoln later formed Lincoln-Barnes Productions in partnership with G.H. Barnes, continuing to make films until 1916. He and Barnes would up in litigation against Amalgamated Pictures in 1917.[16]

His drinking got worse and he died in Sydney on 18 August 1917.[17][18]

At the time of his death he was working on an adaptation of the stage play The Worst Woman in London called The Worst Woman in Sydney.[19]

An obituary described him as:

One of the stoutest champions of Australian moving picture production. Although his sanguine views of the business as a profitable investment were not shared by all his friends, it was conceded by everyone who kn6w him, that he had the courage of his convictions. In the early years of moving picture development, as a medium for dramatic expression, Mr . Lincoln achieved success as a maker of photodramas. Undaunted by the-fact that studio facilities were confined to improvisations of one sort and another, that practical experience was only to be acquired by spending money and risking failure, he stuck to his work, and secured results that, were the more to be commended in that they were obtained under such' discouraging conditions. That Australia could not keep pace in the' general upward trend in production, was not the fault of Lincoln and others who strove to establish the industry here.[20]

Personal life[edit]

Lincoln married Pearl Ireland (d. 4 February 1943[21]) in 1896 and they had one child, a daughter Marguerite, born in 1897.[22]


  1. Moonlite (1910) – based on his play Captain Moonlite[23]
  2. Captain Midnight, the Bush King (1911) – based on his play
  3. It Is Never Too Late to Mend (1911) – based on his stage adaptation of novel, writer, director
  4. The Mystery of a Hansom Cab (1911) – director
  5. The Luck of Roaring Camp (1911) – writer, director
  6. Called Back (1911) – writer, director
  7. The Lost Chord (1911) – director
  8. The Bells (1911) – based on his stage adaptation of the play, writer, director
  9. The Double Event (1911) – writer, director
  10. After Sundown (lost, c. 1911) – director
  11. Breaking the News (1912) – writer, director
  12. Rip Van Winkle (1912) – director
  13. The Sick Stockrider (1913) – director
  14. Moondyne (1913) – director
  15. The Remittance Man (1913) – director
  16. Transported (1913) – director
  17. The Road to Ruin (1913) – director
  18. The Crisis (1913) – director
  19. The Reprieve (1913) – director
  20. The Wreck (1913) – director
  21. Within Our Gates (1915) (aka Deeds That Won Gallipoli) – writer
  22. The Life's Romance of Adam Lindsay Gordon (1916) – writer, producer, director
  23. Within the Law (1916) – writer
  24. Get-Rich-Quick Wallingford (1916) – writer
  25. Nurse Cavell (1916) – director, writer, producer
  26. La Revanche (1916) – director, writer, producer
  27. Officer 666 (1916) – writer

Select theatre credits[edit]


  1. ^ "IN THE BARBER'S SHOP.". Prahran Telegraph. Vic.: National Library of Australia. 1 September 1917. p. 6. Retrieved 26 October 2014. 
  2. ^ Graham Shirley and Brian Adams, Australian Cinema: The First Eighty Years, Currency Press 1989 p 42
  3. ^ Bateman, p 173
  4. ^ a b c "PICTURE PROFILES IN THE OLDEN DAYS.". Winner (Melbourne, Vic. : 1914 - 1917). Melbourne, Vic.: National Library of Australia. 9 February 1916. p. 11. Retrieved 20 June 2015. 
  5. ^ "Advertising.". Kalgoorlie Miner. WA: National Library of Australia. 23 August 1904. p. 7. Retrieved 6 September 2013. 
  6. ^ "THE BLANCHE ARRAL SEASON.". The Sydney Morning Herald. National Library of Australia. 5 September 1906. p. 12. Retrieved 6 September 2013. 
  7. ^ "History of the films goes back to the day just 65 years ago ...". The Advertiser (Adelaide, SA : 1931 - 1954). Adelaide, SA: National Library of Australia. 30 October 1954. p. 10. Retrieved 18 June 2015. 
  8. ^ "PARADISE" AT ST. KILDA.". The Argus. Melbourne: National Library of Australia. 4 October 1909. p. 9. Retrieved 6 September 2013. 
  9. ^ Peter Fogarty, 'The Screening of St Kilda: A History of St Kilda's Cinemas', St Kilda Historical Series Number Two: Cinemas
  10. ^ "MOTION PHOTOGRAPHY.". The Prahran Telegraph (Vic. : 1889 - 1930). Vic.: National Library of Australia. 2 September 1911. p. 3. Retrieved 18 June 2015. 
  11. ^ "Paradise.". The Prahran Telegraph (Vic. : 1889 - 1930). Vic.: National Library of Australia. 28 June 1913. p. 5. Retrieved 20 June 2015. 
  12. ^ "Advertising.". The Age (Melbourne, Vic. : 1854 - 1954). Melbourne, Vic.: National Library of Australia. 28 June 1913. p. 7. Retrieved 23 September 2015. 
  13. ^ "Advertising.". Williamstown Chronicle. Vic.: National Library of Australia. 4 October 1913. p. 6. Retrieved 6 September 2013. 
  14. ^ "MUSIC AND DRAMA.". The Mercury. Hobart, Tas.: National Library of Australia. 4 September 1917. p. 7. Retrieved 19 April 2012. 
  15. ^ "THE PICTURE SHOWS.". Winner. Melbourne: National Library of Australia. 20 October 1915. p. 10. Retrieved 26 October 2014. 
  16. ^ "Advertising.". The Age (Melbourne, Vic. : 1854 - 1954). Melbourne, Vic.: National Library of Australia. 19 July 1917. p. 2. Retrieved 24 September 2015. 
  17. ^ Andrew Pike and Ross Cooper, Australian Film 1900–1977: A Guide to Feature Film Production, Melbourne: Oxford University Press, 1998, 12.
  18. ^ "Family Notices.". The Sydney Morning Herald (NSW : 1842 - 1954). NSW: National Library of Australia. 20 August 1917. p. 6. Retrieved 18 June 2015. 
  19. ^ Bateman p 174
  20. ^ "PROLIFIC STAGE WRITER.". Winner. Melbourne: National Library of Australia. 29 August 1917. p. 10. Retrieved 26 October 2014. 
  21. ^ "Family Notices.". The Sydney Morning Herald (NSW : 1842 - 1954). NSW: National Library of Australia. 6 February 1943. p. 16. Retrieved 18 June 2015. 
  22. ^ Bateman p173
  23. ^ Bateman,p 173
  24. ^ "THE VICTORIAN ORCHESTRA.". Table Talk. Melbourne: National Library of Australia. 5 December 1890. p. 14. Retrieved 26 October 2014. 
  25. ^ "On and Off the Stage.". Table Talk (Melbourne, Vic. : 1885 - 1939). Melbourne, Vic.: National Library of Australia. 19 November 1897. p. 8. Retrieved 2 July 2015. 
  26. ^ An Affair of Honour at AustLit
  27. ^ "CONCERTS, &c.". The Australasian (Melbourne, Vic. : 1864 - 1946). Melbourne, Vic.: National Library of Australia. 13 June 1896. p. 39. Retrieved 2 July 2015. 
  28. ^ The Power of Wealth at AustLit
  29. ^ "AMUSEMENTS. CRITERION.—"POWER OF WEALTH.".". The Sydney Morning Herald. National Library of Australia. 20 August 1900. p. 9. Retrieved 8 September 2013. 
  30. ^ "PALACE—"LITTLE RED RIDING HOOD.".". The Referee. Sydney: National Library of Australia. 27 April 1904. p. 10. Retrieved 6 September 2013. 
  • Bateman, Mary "W. J. Lincoln", Cinema Papers, June–July 1980

External links[edit]